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Posts Tagged ‘environment’

A great multilingual, international initiative to raise awareness of the impact of livestock and meat production on the environment, global warming and world hunger.  Please sign the Global “Meat Free” Petition!  Help establish a national “meat free” day in your country!

From the site:

You might be asking yourself, why do we have to petition governments to declare a “Meat Free” day? That’s simple. Let’s look at Ghent, Belgium for example. Government officials in Ghent have shown leadership and recognized the importance of promoting vegetarianism as a solution to addressing climate change and have thus declared a “veggie” only day – every week; clearly their stance is raising awareness and promoting the many benefits that a plant based diet has on the environment – not to mention on human health.

Facebook group:  “Meat Free” Days – Vote & Set a Global Governmental Trend – http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=109725730676&ref=ts

http://twitter.com/MFMpetition

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In this post I wanted to give some love to Food for Change, PB&J Campaign and Veg Climate Alliance.  Each focuses their blog on the connection between meat and global warming.  I recommend them all!

Food for Change

Food for Change promotes food choices that are sustainable, ethical and environmentally responsible.

This blog from the UK has a unique focus on animal agriculture on the environment and was founded a year ago by Sophie Pritchard.  Learn about her motivations, ideas and more about the impact of livestock on global warming, the environment and health in her recent interview on Green Girls Global.  Then check out her other posts!

I became frustrated that environmental organisations continued to turn a blind eye to the environmental impact of livestock, particularly when both environmental and humanitarian organisations strongly and publicly oppose biofuels because of their environmental and social impacts when I knew that they caused only a fraction of the problems that the livestock industry does. I asked all these organisations about why they focused on biofuels, considering their impacts are the same as meat, but lower in scale. They all told me that the issue with biofuels was that they were making matters worse, whereas the devastation caused by livestock is long-standing. That didn’t seem like a good enough reason to ignore the issue to me.


PB&J Campaign

The PB&J Campaign is working to combat environmental destruction by reducing the amount of animal products people eat.

I really like how they emphasize that even a small reduction in the consumption of animal products generates significant results.

Check out the PB&J Pledge that will calculate the impact of your meals on greenhouse gas emissions, water and land based on whether or not you consume animal products.   The methodology is derived from sound scientific studies.

PB&J has a long-running blog (since April 2008) with MANY interesting posts on the impact of meat on global warming.

Graph on climate impact of meat consumption

meatgraphfull1


Veg Climate Alliance

Veg Climate Alliance, a new international alliance of vegetarian, environmental and animal rights activists and organizations, stresses that the best thing a person can do to stop global warming and its catastrophic consequences is to switch to a plant-based diet.

Mission Statement

Veg Climate Alliance exists to slow global warming by helping people access the most needed information:

a global shift to vegetarianism is necessary to avoid rapidly approaching catastrophic climatic conditions and other environmental threats.

To accomplish this awareness, we will:

  • Seek the support, advice and partnership of key groups and individuals;
  • Jointly release media statements and resolutions;
  • Jointly lobby governments and international groups, including the UN, to specifically promote the veg diet as a means to combat climate change.

In the same aim we will also provide a central information and communication hub connecting all concerned groups/organizations/communities/individuals.

It’s awesome to see an organization setup to help bring together all of the advocates and supporters of this subject to share ideas and to lobby governmental groups to promote a veg diet.  I hope to be a part of it.  See their blog, veg events listings and their forum!

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The meat and global warming link just got a huge publicity boost.

Mark Bittman, author of Food Matters, vegan until 6, and food columnist/blogger at the NY Times,  tonight appeared on what many consider to be the mother of all political talk shows (if you exclude the Daily Show) – the Colbert Report (1.3 million viewers)!!!

See the interview on Eat Me Daily or on Comedy Central

Bittman begins by explaining what it means to “eat consciously” and how we could help ourselves and the planet by adopting a more plant-based diet.  He then explains the meat and global warming connection with help from Colbert!

Bittman was able to both talk about this subject seriously and play along to Colbert’s jabs.  It was especially awesome to see Colbert read the statistics himself.

Those of us that have been talking about meat and global warming can now say “It was on the Colbert Report”.  Enough said!

Some highlights:

  • Colbert:  And my guest tonight is NY Times Food Columnist Mark Bittman! I’ll ask him what foods taste best grilled over a burning NY Times!
  • Colbert:  You say that you are a vegan until 6 pm.  But after that anything goes? Seriously? Does that just go for food?
  • Colbert:  You say that feeding a family of four – a steak dinner, is the equivalent of driving around in a SUV for three hours with all the lights on.
  • Colbert:  How does oil or fuel go into me having a steak? Bittman:  It’s been said, by the United Nations that about a 1/5 or 1/6 of all greenhouse gases are produced by industrialized livestock production.  Colbert:  Industrialized livestock? Oh robot cows.
  • Bittman:  We churn out 10 billion (livestock) a year in this country which means about 30 animals per person in the United States.  We eat those, it increases global warming.  To the extent you eat less of that meat you reduce global warming.
  • Colbert:  You say if we ate 3 fewer cheeseburgers a week, it would have the same impact as taking all SUVs off the road.
  • Bittman:  If we reduce the amount of meat and processed food in our diets, we’re losing weight, we’re making ourselves less susceptible to lifestyle disease, and we’re actually helping the environment and reducing global warming.  It’s like, almost everything.
  • Colbert:  If I could only eat one thing what would it be?  Bittman:  Uh…I dunno (Bittman hesitates…Colbert begins to end show) …cheeseburgers!

Related:  10 online videos on meat and global warming

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If you read the comments from articles about the impact of meat on global warming, it’s likely you’ll encounter arguments against vegetarianism, especially if the word “vegetarian” or “vegan” is in the title.

These arguments tend to be not only misguided but irrelevant as they shift the focus of the debate from “Should I reduce my meat intake to help stop global warming?” (the question we should all be asking ourselves) to “Should I be a vegetarian?” (the question you ask yourself after you try it out for a bit)

Take this example of a popular “Have your say” discussion from the BBC which asks the question, “Should we eat less meat to help the environment? (with a staggering 2281 comments)”

People who are Vegetarians do so voluntarily. No one forces them to eat meat, or give up their chosen diets no matter how unnatural they are. Why, then, must they try to force the rest of us to live their chosen lifestyle? Surely, they must realize that they are in the vast minority and eventually there will be a backlash against them & their totalitarian methods by the silent majority? They & the weak-willed politicians that give in to them, had better be careful of just how far they push us.

David Zimlin, Dunedin, Florida, United States

But you’ll also encounter gems like this one..

I was at the lecture. Dr Pachauri spoke in a personal capacity only and as a previous (omnivore).  His figures come from transparent, international organisations and they are clear. If we took 1 meat free day each per week it would reduce CO2 emissions = 5 MILLION cars being taken off the road.  The panel ALSO referred to subsidies of grain and welfare.  If you want to carry on, selfishly and as usual feel free, but please go and discover another planet to ruin. I want to look after this one.

[inmyshoes], United Kingdom

As the last commenter shows, you don’t have to be a vegetarian or vegan to talk about it – or to blog or twitter excessively about it.  I’ll admit it.  I’m not 100% vegetarian.  I’m currently maybe 90% vegetarian (I eat a little seafood, and eat a little dairy).

Some might suggest this makes me a hypocrite,  and might argue that advocating for a more meat-less diet must mean that I must also have a 100% meat-less diet.

But the numbers speak for themselves:

  • If the average American were to reduce meat consumption by just 20 percent, that would be the equivalent of switching from driving a Camry to a Prius. (source:  Eshel, University of Chicago)
  • Beef production generates more than 13 times the total greenhouse gases from producing chicken. (source:  Fiala, Ecological Economics, picture)
  • $20 trillion would be saved from the cost of fighting climate change if the global population shifted to a low-meat diet – defined as 70 grams of beef and 325 grams of chicken and eggs per week. (source:  Stehfest, Climatic Change)

More:  10 WTF Statistics on Meat and Global Warming

In my opinion, a small reduction in meat consumption (especially beef) from a lot of people is a relatively affordable and easy thing to do.  Compare it to the efficiency and ease of green options such as biking to work or school, buying a Prius or installing solar panels (which are all great ideas).  Eating lower on the food chain is the simplest and most “bang for your buck” green thing to do.

But the question of whether one should be 100% vegetarian or vegan is something to be answered with time… as it requires more effort, discipline, and practice.

If you don’t think you can be vegetarian for one day, why not try out the model of NY Times Food Writer, Mark Bittman, who is vegan until 6pm.

Perhaps we all just need more frequent reminders that global warming is an imminent danger and very real.  Afterall, it is why I blog about it and how I contribute to fighting it.

MSNBC’s “Countdown to Doomsday” explains the risk of thawing frozen methane:

More on methane deposits in the future…

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10 shocking statistics on meat and global warming.

1. If every American (300 million) gave up meat for 1 day a week, this would have the same positive effect on reducing greenhouse gases as saving 90 million plane tickets from New York to Los Angeles! (source:  Meat the Truth documentary, see video clip) [1]

2. If every American gave up meat for 2 days of the week, this would have the same effect as replacing all household appliances like fridges, freezers, microwave ovens, dishwashers, washing machines, tumble dryers and so on and so forth, by energy efficient ones. (source: Meat the Truth documentary)

3. If all Americans gave up meat for 3 days a week, they would save almost 300 megatons of greenhouse gas emissions. This would have a greater impact on reducing global warming than if all cars in the US were replaced with Toyota Priuses. (source: Meat the Truth documentary)

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4. Livestock production produces more greenhouse gases (18%) than all forms of transportation (cars + airplanes) combined.  (source:  UN Food and Agriculture Organization)

5. If the average American were to reduce meat consumption by just 20 percent, that would be the equivalent of switching from driving a Camry to a Prius. (source:  Eshel, University of Chicago)

6. $20 trillion would be saved from the cost of fighting climate change if the global population shifted to a low-meat diet – defined as 70 grams of beef and 325 grams of chicken and eggs per week. (source:  Stehfest, Climatic Change)

7. Beef production generates more than 13 times the total greenhouse gases from producing chicken. (source:  Fiala, Ecological Economics, picture)

Chicken Close Up

8. Animals raised for food produce 1.4 billion metric tons of manure, which is 130 times more excrement than the entire human population put together, for a total of 87,000 pounds per second.

This contributes to livestock’s total gas emissions which include 37% of all methane (20 times more powerful than CO2) and 65% of all nitrous oxide (296 times). (source:  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

9. 70 – 80% of deforested land in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest is occupied by farmers who use the land for livestock feed and grazing.   The rainforests are a natural defense against global warming, by converting CO2 into oxygen.  Brazil is the world’s 4th largest climate polluter, as 75% of greenhouse gas emissions are from deforestation  (source:  Mato Grosso, Greenpeace Brazil, video).

10. The impact of livestock on global warming is rapidly increasing. Annual global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million tons in 2000 to 465 million tons in 2050  (source:  UN Food and Agriculture Organization).

* The calculations used in the documentary “Meat the Truth” derive from and have been validated by many sources including the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the UN FAO and the World Watch Institute.  It was produced under the consultation of many scientific institutions, which can be viewed on its website:  http://www.meatthetruth.nl/en/about-the-film/meat-the-truth-sources/

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10.  Meat the Facts Blog

One of the only blogs dedicated entirely to the environmental, health and global warming impact of meat.

9.  Meat the Truth Documentary

A professional documentary from the Netherlands all about meat and global warming, which premiered in May 2008.  I haven’t seen it yet, but looks like people are reacting favorably! Check out some clips from the documentary on YouTube on the impact of lowering meat consumption to 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 days of the week.

8.  Facebook:  Fight Global Warming! Eat Less Meat! (Or none at all!)

This is a facebook group that currently has 4,600+ members.  There are some interesting discussions/debates, and links/pictures/videos shared with other members.  An inspiration for me to setup this blog and a great way to network.

7.  Campaign for Eco-Veg*nism

Another great way to network.  For anyone interested in grassroots veggie/vegan campaigning from an environmental perspective.  Check out their Yahoo e-mail list, Facebook or Myspace page!  At the moment, they say their website is a bit basic (it’s true) but that it “will eventually become a mine of eco-veg*n campaigning info!”

6.  Let’s Act Now!

In January of this year, they launched a nationwide Public Service Announcement on the impact of meat on global warming.  If you’ve been wondering why nobody has setup a professional looking website on this subject, this is your answer.

5.  Food for Change Blog

Nice looking and up-to-date website/blog that “promotes food choices that are sustainable, ethical and environmentally responsible”.  What that headline doesn’t tell you, is that they also emphasize the environmental / global warming impact of animal agriculture.  Also check out their resources section, which includes videos, reports (they have 55), and a list of organizations.

4.  PETA 2: Meat’s Not Green

Their website is made for a young audience, and includes videos, vegetarian tips, a petition, a widget for calculating one’s footprint, and blog that details the PETA2’s efforts to get the word out that “Meat’s Not Green”.

3.  Supreme Master TV

There is no other place on the web that is as dedicated to providing relevant links and especially VIDEOS on this subject.  Even more impressively, they have a video section of  politicians and top climate scientists (including Dr. James Hansen and IPCC Chief Rajendra Pachouri) sharing their thoughts on meat and global warming.

2.  Compassion in World Farming (CIWF): Lecture on “Global Warning: the Impact of Meat Production & Consumption on Climate Change” from Dr. Pachouri (Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Joint winner of 2007 Nobel Peace Prize)

Includes video of highlights, mp3s of lecture, Powerpoint slideshow

There are  many articles on what Dr. Pachouri said, but not many people learned that he gave an entire lecture on this subject, which included a follow-up from a discussion panel.  Woot!  CIWF also has written reports on the impact of meat and factory farms on the environment and global warming.  He’s no Al Gore, but in the world of climate change, this guy is the man.

1.  Price of Meat Blog

I couldn’t decide which deserved the #1 spot, so I settled on my own blog … bwahahaha.  I know I’m only one person, and there are many organizations that have done a lot more work on this than I have.  But where else can you find a blogger on this subject with a snarky personality who writes top 10 lists on meat and global warming?

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cows

This is a useful post for illustrating meat’s carbon footprint to different people.  Do you like exotic food?  Know a Prius or SUV owner?  Don’t plan on going veg anytime soon?  There’s something for everyone. Hopefully, at least one of these ten studies will help you or someone you know to consider eating less meat.

1.  Livestock’s Longshadow

This is probably the most cited and comprehensive study on the impact of meat on global warming and the environment.  Estimated that livestock produces 18% of all greenhouse gases, more than all forms of transportation combined.  Summary:  Spotlight: Livestock impacts on the environment

Steinfeld et all., United Nations, Food and Agricultural Organization, 2006.

For those who just want to hear it from a “legitimate source”.

2.  Diet, Energy and Global Warming (pdf)(view as html)

One of the first major studies on this subject, which concluded choosing a vegan diet reduced more greenhouse gases than switching from a SUV to a prius.  Summary:  Vegan Diets Healthier for Planet, People than Meat Diets

Gidon Eshel and Martin, University of Chicago,  December 2005.

For the veg-curious and hybrid or SUV owners.

3.   Kangaroos and Greenhouse Gases

Concluded switching from beef to kangaroo meat would significantly help fight global warming.

Articles about this subject are surprisingly popular.  Though I don’t think I would touch kangaroo meat, many people seem curious about this new alternative.  To me, this is fine.  It brings a lot of awareness to the impact of livestock on global warming, which is the most important thing.  Apparently, about 58% of Australians eat kangaroo meat.  Summary:  Kangaroo Farming would Cut Greenhouse Gases

To start conversations with exotic food lovers, cute Australians, global warming skeptics, and maybe animal rights activists.

George Wilson, University of New South Wales (May 2008)

4.  Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States

Concluded that reducing meat consumption will more effectively lower one’s carbon footprint than “buying local”.  Summary:  It’s the Meat Not the Miles

Christopher L. Weber and H. Scott Matthews, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Department of Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon Universit(April 2008).

For locavores and the “just buy local or organic” discussions.

5.  Climate Friendly Dining Meats

A look at the individual carbon footprints of beef, pork, chicken and fish.  Beef accounts for only 30% of all meat consumption, but contributes 78% of meat’s greenhouse gas emissions.  AFP summary:  Hamburgers are the Hummers of Food in Global Warming.

American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, Chicago (Feb. 15).

For the everyday meat eater.

6.  The Cheeseburger Footprint

Concludes: “The greenhouse gas emissions arising every year from the production and consumption of cheeseburgers is roughly the amount emitted by 6.5 million to 19.6 million SUVs.  There are now approximately 16 million SUVs currently on the road in the US. ”  Total Cheeseburgers = Total SUVs?

Jamais Cascio, ref: Energy Use in the Food Sector (PDF), a 2000 report from Stockholm University and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, (Dec. 2006).

To help cheeseburger-eating, frequent SUV drivers feel even more guilty.

7.  Climate Benefits of Changing Diet

Concluded that if the world shifted to a low-meat diet, the world could cut $20 trillion off the cost of fighting global warming (that’s $20,000,000,000,000).  Summary:  Eating less meat could cut climate costs

Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, Earth System Science and Climate Change Group, Wageningen University Research Centre, February 2009.

For any discussion about the dismal state of the world economy or stimulus packages.

8.  Global Environmental Costs of Beef Production

A well-cited article by scholars, ahead of its time.  Showed “cows emit between 2.5 and 4.7 ounces of methane for each pound of beef they produce.  Because methane has roughly 23 times the global-warming potential of CO2, those emissions are the equivalent of releasing between 3.6 and 6.8 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere for each pound of beef produced.”  (Nathan Fiala – interesting researcher on this subject, Scientific American)

For those who give you links to carbon footprint calculators.

Susan Subak, University College London (July 1999).

9.  Amazon Cattle Footprint (pdf)

This is an impressive study with maps and graphs on how cattle ranching is responsible for 80% of the continuous deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.  According to Dr. Norman Myers, 5% of the world’s deforestation is currently due to cattle ranching.  Overall deforestation is estimated to be responsible for 20% of all greenhouse gases, more than transportation.  Summary:  How Cattle Ranches are Chewing Up the Amazon Rainforest.

For the everyday treehugger (a good thing) who isn’t cutting back on meat.

Greenpeace (January 2009)

10. Evaluating environmental impacts of the Japanese beef cow–calf system by the life cycle assessment method

Concluded that producing 1kg of beef results in more CO2 emissions than going for a three-hour drive while leaving all the lights on at home.  Summary:  Meat is Murder on the Environment

For the next time your wife/husband/roommate/etc. complains about you leaving the lights on or wasting gas.

Akifumi Ogino, National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science, Tsukuba, and Graduate School of Agriculture, Kyoto University, Sakyo, Kyoto, Japan (July 2007)

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